Israeli aircraft shoot down ‘Hezbollah drone’
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The Israeli air force has shot down a drone eight kilometres off Israel’s northern coast. Deputy defence minister Danny Danon promptly blamed the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
An Israeli F-16 fighter jet shot down a drone from Lebanon over the Mediterranean sea on Thursday as it was approaching the Israeli coast, military officials reported.
Suspicion immediately fell on the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon. However, the Iranian-backed group has denied the allegation.
"We're talking about another attempt by Hezbollah to send an unmanned drone into Israeli territory", Israel’s deputy defence minister Danny Danon told army radio.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I view with great gravity this attempt to violate our border. We will continue to do what is necessary to defend the security of Israel’s citizens.”
Israel’s military earlier released a statement saying that the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was detected in Lebanese skies and tracked by the Israeli military as it was approaching the northern Israeli port city of Haifa. The drone was downed only eight kilometres off the coast of Haifa by a missile fired at around 2pm (GMT+3).
Second drone in seven months
“This is the second time in the past seven months that a UAV has been intercepted in Israeli airspace”, the Israeli official statement added.
A report from the AP news agency suggested that the drone was sent by Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war against Israel in 2006.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah claimed responsibility in October 2012 for the previous launch of an Iranian-designed drone into Israeli airspace. The drone reportedly flew over sensitive sites some 55 kilometres into southern Israel on October 6 2012, before being shot down near the Dimona nuclear reactor.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)